World’s oldest known drawing found in African cave


It looks a bit relish a hashtag, but it’s 73,000 years old. And scientists say this tiny sketch bring about in a South African cave is the oldest known drawing by humans.

It’s not the earliest reflect on design; some abstract engravings are far older. But the drawing shows initially humans in southern Africa could produce designs on various appears with different techniques.

The collection of crisscrossed lines was found in the Blombos Hole about 300 kilometres east of Cape Town. It is at least 30,000 years older than any other recognized drawing, researchers say in a report released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

It was created with a whetted flake of ochre, a pigment widely used in the ancient world, answered Christopher Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway.

World's oldest known drawing found in African cave

Researchers work preferential the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa, where the outline was found, along with other artifacts bearing similar fashions. (Magnus M. Haaland via Associated Press)

The drawing is basically six red lines crossed by three other shed weight curved lines. It appears on a tiny flake of mineral crust proceeding only about 39 millimetres long and about 15 millimetres high. It’s evidently part of a larger drawing because lines reaching the bourn are cut off abruptly there, researchers said.

The drawing was apparently made in the presence of the flake was deliberately struck off of a grinding stone used to make ochre control, Henshilwood said in an email.

Popular motif

Similar patterns are fixed in other artifacts from the cave, and the hashtag design was produced extensively over the past 100,000 years in rock art and paintings, he said. So the newly set up sketch is probably not just a collection of random scratchings.

«It almost certainly had some gist to the maker, and probably formed a part of the common symbolic system accepted by other people in this group,» Henshilwood said.

World's oldest known drawing found in African cave

An abstract configuration has been engraved on this piece of ocher found at Blombos Buckle in the same archaeological stratum that yielded the silcrete flake. (D’Errico/Henshilwood/Identity)

The finding gives evidence that early humans could hoard information outside the brain and supports the argument that early associates of our species «behaved essentially like us» before they left Africa for Europe and Asia, he implied.

Silvia Bello, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London who didn’t participate in the work, called the finding important.

«It further shows how rich and complex benign behaviour already was 73,000 years ago,» she said in an email.

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